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Fripp & Eno - The Equatorial Stars CD (album) cover


Fripp & Eno

Progressive Electronic

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3 stars I was pleasantly surprised by this release. I figured that the chances were good that Fripp & Eno would phone in some half-hearted effort, perhaps cobbling together bits of old material that was cast aside from another project. Instead, they've put together an album that retains the charms of their previous collaborations while going off on some varied tangents. The best part is the fact that they didn't opt for an up-to-date, modern sound that employs lots of sampling, editing and especially "urban" hipness. Some of Eno's recent work has been diminished by that tendency, and I'm relieved that restraint was used here. I'm not saying that the overall sound is old-fashioned, just that it avoids pandering to the "youth of today" culture that permeates just about everything. I'd give it four stars, but I'll have to wait a few years to know for sure how it stacks up against their past work.
Report this review (#41363)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was also pleasantly surprised by this very atmospheric album. Over the decades, I've found both Fripp and Eno to have faded a bit (or at least, they've had difficulty adding anything significant to their enormous repertoires), and I was concerned that I'd be thinking "ho hum; another Fripp & Eno". But this nicely picks up where they last left off (Evening Star); not significantly different, but better overall. I'm fairly certain that this one will age very well, and so rate it "Excellent".
Report this review (#45686)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Equatorial Stars is impressionistic, often somber, and intriguing. Fripp's guitar playing blends perfectly with Eno's ambient music style. This collection of five tracks has a deliberate evolutionary format. In the beginning, it relates the loneliness of the stars and near emptiness of space and wraps up with industrial sounds that hint at some kind of unnatural activity. Eno enthusiasts will find this a treat; there is no beautifully mad guitar work anywhere, as one might expect from Fripp. All in all, it's a fine offering of electronic music.

"Meissa" begins by reminding one of the radio noise produced by the planets Jupiter and Saturn; this theme persists throughout, with mournful and ponderous guitar lines. There are several synthesizer and guitar loops that meander, and are layered over each other. The overall impression is one of the incredible remoteness of the stars; distant, yet fiery points of light. "Lyra" picks up where Meissa left off. The one change is an emerging sense of expectation in the steady background tone. "Tarazed" is slightly more aggressive with hints of machines droning softly, revealing signs of organized activity. Each track increases the pace in an "only just" perceptible way, becoming more and more complex. "Lupus" begins with an impression of a heartbeat and swirling sonic loops with filtering that leaves the impression of sounds being treated with a vocoder. "Ankaa" has an ominous background theme; however, Fripp's guitar adds color and voice to the growing din. "Altair" is more fully alive, with a rhythm line and background that grows in sonic pressure. The percussion evokes the impression of the emergence of "intelligence" in some distant star system. Fripp's part is tantamount to a simple rhythm guitar loop punctuated with occasional quite soaring; the synthesizers dominate and carry the lead theme nicely. "Terebellum" is subtly industrial.

Report this review (#163348)
Posted Thursday, March 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I loved No Pussyfooting and simply didn't fall in love with Evening Star. This was in the same vein as No Pussyfooting, but had a very updated feel to it. The album was much more focused and had a better sense of direction than No Pussyfooting, and I really enjoyed it. Fripp's solos are some of his most beautiful, and Eno's production is just flawless. The only thing keeping this album from a 5 in my opinion is the same thing that held me back from giving No Pussyfooting a 5 star rating. While I love the songs and soundscapes on the album, movement within songs is very horizontal, rather than vertical, which makes it sound somewhat incomplete. I highly recommend this album to anyone. It is definitely the best ambient album I have listened to to date.
Report this review (#197388)
Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gorgeous, swirling, noodly, abstract, odorous, and oh so flawless, The Equatorial Stars is a fantastic example of the sheer beauty that can arise from properly executed ambient music. Matching the album name, this music sounds like it comes from the depths of space, but not in a a "blacker-than-black" manner like early TD; for the most part, The Equatorial Stars is an easy and pleasant listen. Each of the tunes has a definite sort of mood to it, ranging from relatively cheerful to dark and noisy. Fripp and Eno definitely have a sort of chemistry, and I find that it comes out more effectively through this album than it does through some of their other collaborations, although all are unique enough to be worth checking out.

One of my favourite albums of all time.

Report this review (#282944)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fripp and Eno are at their best when they turn their attentions to astronomy. Just as Evening Star was the superior of their two albums from the 1970s, so too is The Equatorial Stars a great little bit of ambient bliss three decades after their last major release. Steering a careful course between taking advantage of updated technology on the one hand and staying true to the project's parameters on the other, the duo once again create a varied and fascinating album which may no longer blaze a trail into uncharted regions of ambient as their first two albums did, but is no less compelling despite that.
Report this review (#672991)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After several decades pause, the collaboration of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno had evolved from their rawer 1970's sounds towards more soothing and quieter directions of ambient realms. The inspiration for this elevating disc of aural tranquility was drawn again from the stars. The reference to term "equatorial" was left slightly unclear to me; possibilities would be either an observing perspective from locations of Earth's equatorial latitude, allowing visibility for both northern and southern hemispheres heavenly views, or maybe referring to the astronomer's celestial equatorial concept used as for a star homing tool. Whatever the case was, both are earthbound observing methods, not related to actual positions of stars, which only due our own vantage point seem to reside as constellations. The open and soothing record can also be listened easy without any thematic orientation, though it suits well for either mystical astrologic contemplations or slumbering in scientific astronomic cosmic dreams. My own on-professional astral navigator's notes are stated as follows;

The delicate ringing of ethereal bells creates a pleasant experience of vast space for the beginning of the journey. The first cosmic entity adored is gigantic star "Meissa" (The Shining One), radiating its blue glow from the constellation of Orion. Robert's dark-toned effected guitar solo licks reach solemnly for the heavenly light, harmonizing wonderfully with the radiant background vibrations of cloister observatory's audio research chamber. Later the guitar sound morphs to mesmerizing echoed shadows, merging to the disappearing background tonal tapestry. The perception shifts to "Lyra"'s constellation, dominated by Vega, one of the most brightly shining stars on the skies. Synthesizers evoke a melodic triangle creating a feeling of anticipation, clear guitar slides mystifying on the harmonic probabilities with fantastic sense of style. Like from man's perspective of time, the solid stagnation of the sounds appears as firm as the stars themselves on the nocturnal roof of the earth. According the Greek tale of Orfeus, his lyra was sent by Zeus to the skies on the wings of an Eagle, which could give a signal to turn the telescopes to the constellation of Aquila. There one can witness a young giant star "Tarazed". Here hollow wind-like humming pairs with Robert's guitar prayers, this fusion scribing yet another wonderful page to this celestial book of hours. The long waves of cosmic sounds move quietly towards more electronic modern sound palettes in the final moments of this song.

To this point, the album has musically been completely awesome meditative resource for me, but the following visitation to the "Lupus", the constellation of the Wolf, introduces some programmed rhythm loops, which I did not find most optimal for meditative music listening. This predatory animal, lurking in shades of mighty constellation of Centaurus in the southern hemisphere's sky, has also some more turbulent radiophonic elements familiar from Robert's 1990's solo recordings.

The next place of observation, "Ankaa," is the traditional name for constellation of Phoenix, the mythical fire bird eternally being reborn from its own ashes. The visualization for this sun is created from semi-harmonious synth abstractions, cinematopic sound constructions and subtle guitar visitations, continuing the core quality line of this record for me.

The visions are again drawn to the constellation of Aquila, positioning for the light of "Altair", one of the closest and brightest star visible for us. This rapidly rotating sun has been studied by the cosmologists, and it has been noted being flattened from its poles due gravitational forces of its spinning. For this fact, the presence of rhythm loops and funky guitar riffs are justified, and create more dynamic tension for the movement. However for the complete listening experience I tend to skip this track along with the earlier mentioned fourth song.

The last glance goes to a group of stars on the constellation of Sagittarius, "Terebellum", reaching a wonderful climax to the formless cosmic presence available on this album. So for me the only negative aspect of this record were the few programmed rhythms, which in my opinion disturbed the sacred serenity sensed from the other tracks, luckily occupying the majority of the album's running time. These great solemn moments make this as a really pleasant album, certainly worth recommending for those searching elevating groves of modern ambient music calmness.

Report this review (#795459)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After years of occasionally playing and recording; these un-matched duo of composers; have more to deliver than contrast of structures and instruments. Time and experience settled these two rivers into a single ocean; or galaxy more in accordance with the recurrent picture.

After an incredible "Evening Star"; which could flow between "krautrock", "electronic", "eclectic", "ambient" and "indusrial-ambient"; "The Equatorial Stars" as they establish in the name; is going to be an un-earthly collaboration; the third between the 2, at that time.

Years of playing occasionally together have blended the route of their approaches. The result in this project is closer to Enos´s keyboard "ambient" language and Fripps´s electric guitar "soundscape" environments, coexisting together in the same gravity and space, breathing the same air. Therefore the feeling in general is "electronic-etherea"l, leaning towards "ambiental", but without its low-keyed "limits" and without any kind of preconceived attachments, being that both languages have very solid structures and identities by themselves.

And even better than that; we are offered focused compositions; even thoug, both languages merge as whispers of two different voices, the direction both take has more control and direction, so the approaches are counter-balanced by song-composition and its "restraints". Two worlds collide for a very "friendly" third clash.

*****5, "The best of two worlds redifined and refined by experience and way ahead vision" PA Stars

Report this review (#910820)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Review Permalink

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